jeff cremer

Just One Word January BPC
Day 3: Gold

Some hardbacks with gold lettering

Have you ever seen a butterfly drink turtle tears?

Well, now you have. You’re welcome!

But, what is actually going on here?

In the Peruvian Amazon, sodium is a scarce mineral due to its distance from any marine environment and the fact that it is cut off from windblown mineral particles to the west by the Andes Mountains. Turtles, and other carnivores, obtain sodium from meat, but herbivores find it difficult to obtain sufficient concentrations of this vital mineral. As a result, in this part of the world, you can often see butterflies flocking around turtle’s heads (tracajá turtles in this image), drinking their tears, getting their sodium fix.

How are the turtles through all this? We’re not sure. It stands to reason that the butterflies are drawing perhaps unwanted attention to the turtles, but no direct harm is thought to occur. The turtles have enough tears to feed the butterflies simply because the butterflies are taking so little. The butterflies simply uptake salts through a process similar to absorption by placing their proboscis in the tears and passively have a sup. Bless.

Jean

Photos courtesy of Jeff Cremer

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Have you ever seen a butterfly drink turtle tears?

Well, now you have. You’re welcome!

But, what is actually going on here?

In the Peruvian Amazon, sodium is a scarce mineral due to its distance from any marine environment and the fact that it is cut off from windblown mineral particles to the west by the Andes Mountains. Turtles, and other carnivores, obtain sodium from meat, but herbivores find it difficult to obtain sufficient concentrations of this vital mineral. As a result, in this part of the world, you can often see butterflies flocking around turtle’s heads (tracajá turtles in this image), drinking their tears, getting their sodium fix.

How are the turtles through all this? We’re not sure. It stands to reason that the butterflies are drawing perhaps unwanted attention to the turtles, but no direct harm is thought to occur. The turtles have enough tears to feed the butterflies simply because the butterflies are taking so little. The butterflies simply uptake salts through a process similar to absorption by placing their proboscis in the tears and passively have a sup. Bless.


Photos courtesy of Jeff Cremer